This photo taken on January 11, 2019 shows the river separating the town of Muse in Myanmar (foreground) and Ruili in China …
This photo taken on Jan. 11, 2019 shows the river separating the town of Muse in Myanmar (foreground) and Ruili in China (background), as seen from Muse in Shan State.

YANGON, MYANMAR - Myanmar police told VOA Burmese that one of four Wuhan men believed to have crossed the border into the Muse District has turned himself in to Chinese police.

U Okkar, the deputy administrator for the Muse District in Myanmar, told VOA Burmese Wednesday that police from Ruili, the Chinese city across the porous border, told Muse authorities that the man turned himself in at the Ruili Police Station on Tuesday. 

The man tested negative for the coronavirus known as COVID-19, which was first reported in Wuhan, a megacity sealed off Jan. 23 by Chinese authorities as part of effort to contain the deadly, fast-spreading virus.

U Okkar told VOA that Ruili police did not reveal the identity of the Wuhan resident.

“Ruili police also told us that the Wuhan man who surrendered himself cleared the COVID-19 test. The remaining three Wuhan residents who are still at large might be in China as Chinese authorities predicted.” 

Female fugitive returned to China

The saga of the Wuhan fugitives emerged last week, when police in Ruili in Yunnan Province notified the chief of police in Myanmar’s Muse District to be on the lookout for four men and a woman “more than likely [carrying] the new coronavirus pneumonia,” according to a letter dated Feb. 5, and obtained by VOA Burmese.

Muse authorities apprehended the only woman in the group and returned her to Chinese authorities on Feb. 6 after she tested negative for the virus. No information is available regarding what happened to her upon returning to China.

The two jurisdictions frequently coordinate as members the China-Myanmar Joint Anti-Trafficking task force to combat what Human Rights Watch calls the “booming business” of transporting “hundreds of women and girls from northern Myanmar to China and sell them to Chinese families struggling to find brides for their sons due to the country’s gender imbalance.”

Workers return to work in Ruili

Earlier this week, U Thaung Tun, the social relief volunteer chief of Muse District told VOA Burmese that businesses and factories in Ruili have reopened and more than 10,000 Myanmar workers cross the border into Ruili and the neighboring town of Jaegao each day.  He organized relief volunteers from 14 civil society organizations (CSO) to assist health workers at the border crossings in Muse. The district of Muse and the township of Muse are funding the effort.

Dr. Tin Maung Nyunt, chief of the Public Health Department of Northern Shan State, told VOA Burmese on Wednesday that the department has amassed enough testing and medicines.

His concern is the border crossing.

“It takes about five minutes for each worker to register and get their temperatures checked,” he said. “It is overwhelming, beyond health department’s capacity to handle properly.”

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